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Ford Sport Utility Vehicles, Windstar Minivans To be Sold Nationwide as Low-Emission Vehicles

5 January 1998

Ford Sport Utility Vehicles, Windstar Minivans To be Sold Nationwide as Low-Emission Vehicles

    DETROIT, Jan. 5 -_ Ford Motor Company today
announced that all sport utility vehicles _- including the Ford Explorer,
Mercury Mountaineer, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator -_ and the Ford
Windstar minivan will be sold nationally as Low Emission Vehicles (LEVs)
starting with the 1999 model year.
    "This commitment means that one in every five vehicles Ford sells in the
United States -_ more than 800,000 vehicles -_ is expected to be the greenest
gasoline-powered sport utility or minivan available nationwide, as clean as
most cars now on the road," Ford Automotive Operations President Jac Nasser
said Monday during media preview days at the North American International Auto
Show.  "I'm talking about a big impact right now, because we are accelerating
the rate of replacement of older vehicles with much cleaner ones."
    Under Ford's sweeping low-emissions program, the Ford Windstar and all
Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sport utility vehicles (SUVs) will not only beat
emissions standards for trucks, they will be cleaner than most passenger cars
on the road today.
    Among other environmental initiatives, Ford also unveiled the P2000 DIATA
prototype, a revolutionary new clean car that is expected to carry a family of
five about 63 miles on one gallon of fuel, and the Ford Expedition Compressed
Natural Gas (CNG) research vehicle, a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV)
with smog-forming emissions 80 percent lower than the 1999 requirement.
    "We could do a low-volume P2000 demonstration program right now _- just as
we did a couple of years ago with the aluminum-intensive Sable program.  We
know how to do it," Nasser said.  "However, we have elected to move as quickly
as possible to higher-volume programs that will have more of an immediate
impact on more of our customers, and therefore greater benefit to the
environment and society at large."
    All of the company's vehicles during the past decade have three important
dimensions:  They are safe, clean and efficient.

    Ford's Clean Utility Vehicles and Windstar are Environmentally Responsible
    "Windstar already is the only minivan to have the government's five-star
frontal crash test safety rating for both the passenger's and driver's side,
and now it's also expected to be the cleanest gasoline minivan," Nasser said.
"Later this year when 1999 models are introduced, every single one of the
sport utility vehicles that we sell -_ every Ford Explorer and Mercury
Mountaineer and Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator nationwide -_ will be a
low-emission vehicle.  Around our dyno rooms and test labs, we've started
calling them CUVs, for Clean Utility Vehicles."
    There is no federal mandate requiring CUVs.  As LEVs, Windstar and the
Ford, Lincoln and Mercury SUVs will emit only half of the smog-forming
hydrocarbon emissions produced by the typical vehicles in their class.
"Why are we doing this now?  First, because we know how to do it dependably,
and at an affordable cost," Nasser said.  "And second, we think it's what our
customers increasingly want."
    In addition to Ford's plans to sell low-emission vehicles nationwide, 11
of the company's gasoline-powered vehicles are certified already as California
LEVs, including the 1998 Ford Escort, Taurus, Windstar, Ranger and Expedition,
Mercury Tracer and Sable and Lincoln Navigator.  The dedicated natural gas
versions of the 1997 F-250 pickup and Econoline van were the world's first
vehicles to meet California's Super Ultra Low-Emission Vehicle (SULEV)
standards.  The dedicated natural-gas Ford Crown Victoria, available since
1996, was the first vehicle certified and sold as an Ultra Low-Emission
Vehicle (ULEV).
    During 1997, Ford certified more engine families to California's LEV
standards or better than any other automaker in the world.  Ozone-related
tailpipe emissions already have been reduced dramatically over the last two
decades -_ by 96 percent nationally and 98 percent in California.

    Ford:  A Leader in Developing Alternative Fuel Vehicles
    The Ford Expedition CNG, to be built initially in a small test fleet, is
the latest newcomer to Ford's alternative fuel fleet.  Ford is the industry
leader, selling about 95 percent of North America's alternative fuel vehicles
in 1997.
    Displayed from among the fleet during the Monday preview were a Ranger
electric vehicle owned by the University of Michigan, a ULEV natural-gas Crown
Victoria taxi from Atlanta, a bi-fuel propane F-Series from FerrelGas of Texas
and a natural-gas Transit used as a drugstore delivery van in Germany.
    "These are real vehicles for the driving needs of real people," Nasser
said.  "As part of our strategy, we are pursuing a broad array of technologies
to let consumers decide for themselves what works for them.  We are absolutely
dedicated to providing our customers with the right vehicle with the right
fuel at the right time to fit their lifestyles."

    For the 1998 model year, the company will offer 12 North American products
running on electricity or alternative fuels, ranging from ethanol, methanol
and natural gas to liquefied petroleum gas (propane):
    *  Bi-fuel natural-gas F-Series pickup
    *  Dedicated natural-gas F-Series pickup
    *  Bi-fuel propane F-Series pickup
    *  Bi-fuel natural-gas Econoline van/Club Wagon
    *  Dedicated natural-gas Econoline van/Club Wagon
    *  Dedicated natural-gas regular-length Club Wagon passenger van
    *  Bi-fuel propane Econoline van/Club Wagon
    *  Bi-fuel natural-gas Contour sedan
    *  Dedicated natural-gas Crown Victoria sedan
    *  Taurus E-85 Flexible Fuel Vehicle
    *  Taurus M-85 Flexible Fuel Vehicle
    *  Ranger Electric Vehicle

    Ford also plans an aggressive AFV program in Europe.  Starting next fall,
the company will offer a series of new AFV products, including five compressed
natural gas and petroleum cars and commercial vehicles over a three-year
period.  The vehicles will be bi-fueled, operating on either gaseous fuel or
unleaded gasoline.

    Nurturing a Market
    Helping dealers to promote the vehicles, Ford is offering incentives in
North America of up to $2,000 on some 1998 models.  Purchase incentives
include $1,000 on the flexible-fuel Taurus, $1,500 on the bi-fuel propane-
powered F-Series truck, Econoline van and natural-gas-powered Crown Victoria;
and $2,000 on the bi-fuel and natural-gas-powered F-Series truck and Econoline
    To promote the expansion of natural-gas vehicles into the mainstream, Ford
launched its "Focused Market Development Program" in seven U.S. cities last
summer.  In each city -_ Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver,
Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York -_ Ford is marketing the vehicles at
airports and other locations as taxicabs, as well as shuttle, delivery and
service vehicles.
    Last summer, the company also announced a major program to produce about
250,000 flexible-fuel vehicles over the next three or four years that can run
on gasoline, ethanol or a combination of the two.  To encourage customers to
buy alternative-fuel vehicles, Ford is focusing on the infrastructure needed
to make them as convenient as their gasoline-powered counterparts.
    By announcing its FFV plans early, Ford hopes to encourage the expansion
of ethanol stations.  The strategy worked in Detroit.  The Corn Marketing
Program of Michigan opened the state's first public ethanol fueling facility
in November and soon plans to add more.  Ford also is working closely with
natural-gas associations, ethanol and electric vehicle organizations to
develop the infrastructure needed to eliminate the barriers that now exist.
    On another front, to support consumer acceptance of electric vehicles, the
company began testing an electric vehicle fast-charging system last fall that
will significantly improve the usable daily range of electric vehicles by
charging a battery pack in minutes, rather than hours.
    The PosiCharge(TM) fast charger, developed by California-based
AeroVironment Inc., can recharge 80 percent of the Ranger EV's battery in less
than 20 minutes, allowing it to be driven well over 150 miles per day on an
affordable lead acid battery.  Without the system, Ranger EV requires a six-
hour charge for a range of 50 miles.

SOURCE  Ford Motor Company